Sony Pictures Entertainment has been targeted by hackers, with the company forced to switch off its systems as a drastic precaution.
Sony Pictures was reportedly blackmailed by the hackers, with a skull appearing on internal computer screens along with a message from them claiming that they had obtained all internal data including “top secret data”.
Reports suggested that the hackers were asking for certain demands to be met, and if they weren’t then this information they claimed to have would be released to the public.
The hackers claimed that they were from “#GOP”, suggesting that they were the group Guardians of Peace.
An image on Reddit, reportedly showing the message that Sony Pictures’ users were confronted with, saying: “Hacked by #GOP. Warning: We’ve already warned you, and this is just the beginning. We have obtained all your internal data including secrets and top secrets.”
In a statement, Sony Pictures claimed that it was investigating the matter. The company has managed to recover its Twitter accounts which were also compromised.
Reports suggested that the company shut down its network as precaution, and advised its staff that the situation could take a couple of days, or even a couple of weeks, to resolve. According to Variety, the IT team at Sony Picture had to ask staff to turn off their PCs as well as disabling wireless connections on their smartphones and tablets.
Sony has long been a target of hackers, although usually it is the company’s PlayStation Network (PSN) that is targeted.
Hackers exposed Sony’s poor security practices in 2011 when personal details about millions of PSN users were stolen in an incident that knocked the service offline for almost a month.
More recently, the PSN was brought down in a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack.
Dr Kevin Curran, senior member of IEEE and a senior lecturer in computer science at the University of Ulster, had told Computing that “Sony does not understand security”.